Somehow I had literally never noticed until the Rebels panel at SWCE that Hondo’s hat is damned tricorn.

Well played, Hondo. Well played.

It’s less obvious in his TCW helmet (it’s distinctly more a helmet than a hat, though both are hybrids, really), but those same principal lines are there:

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I guess he’s just that much more of a pirate now. Or desperate to give the most piratey impression possible now that he doesn’t have a jazzy fall collar. Which is probably very much the case in reality as the budget is so limited in Rebels that all costumes are fitted and streamlined (except for, y’know, Vader. Thanks Vader.) In TCW Hondo’s entire silhouette screamed pirate with the boots, the high-waisted bell-bottomed trousers and was effectively an armed cutaway frock with the hugest fall collar a pirate could buy. Now, they have to cut that down and find the quickest and most direct visual marker to say ‘pirate’. And so, they took his helmet and flattened it out to create more of an overtly tricorn space hat helmet thing. (Also character appropriate since he’s lost everything. Good job, Hondo. In TCW he was a pirate, but they were almost militaristic in their piracy like, y’know, when he attacked some farmers with a tank.)

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The home release of Rebels S2 saw an influx of new concept art, including these Hondon explorations. They show just how far back they ended up stripping Hondo’s silhouette for Rebels, inititally pushing off in these very piratey directions, playing wiht what are fundamentally cliched pirate looks before landing on the much more subtle, sporty all-in-one look. They kept the allusion to the lines and fall-collar of his TCW frock whilst staying firmly in the Rebels aesthetic.

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Hondo’s TCW look was a combination of mid-to late C18th Chinese and Western fashions thrown in a Star Wars filter. Armoured pauldrons, yoke and nerd goggles place him firmly in the Clone Wars war-time aesthetic.

The C18th  was when tailoring as we know and understand it today was developed, cutting to follow the body closely advancing in leaps and bounds until dandy gentlemen were bowing the century out in very tightly britches and aggressively cut coats (think your Darcys.) Hondo’s costume straddles this fashion evolution, his coat pulling from both fashionable British frocks and French great coats of the early half of the century, and particularly riffing off popular fantasy imagery of well-known pirates: the particular influence of the Blackbeard feels apparent given his beardy fronds and colour scheme. I feel like the below fantasy portrayal of that historical pirate was probably a key reference. Tall boots, and fitted fall front trousers riff off latter C18th century fashions, the fitted shirt a modern spin all coming together to create a clearly defined classic image of ‘pirate’.

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Capture of the Pirate, Blackbeard in 1718, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1920

Elements such as Hondo’s hair – the long braid – his arm wrappings and smaller details such as his earrings show a historical Chinese influence, whilst also calling back to the original RotJ weeqay guards of Tatooine without directly translating them to animation, giving a more appropriate and directed look. (In my opinion, the weeqay guards are some of the messiest and least successful aliens of the original trilogy. To such an extent that it took me a long time to realise they were in fact the same species as Hondo and his crew.) Given that there was a pirate-turned-bounty hunter in TCW named Kiera Swann (she is my new favourite), it’s safe to say that the Pirates of the Caribbean films played an influence on Hondo and his space pirate Horde, particularly the latter films which played off a lot of the popular orientalism of the late C18th. As well as an aestehtic and cultural influence, it also contributes to Hondo’s standing and success as a pirate, as one of the most successful pirate fleets in the late C18th and early C19th was the Chinese Red Flag Fleet, who were not only fearsome but incredibly centralised and organised, akin to Hondo’s command structure in TCW.

Given that each element of his costume was allegedly stolen, this also accounts for the disparate elements of his look.

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The Pirate Queen of China, Ching She  (right), unfortunate Chinese sailors on the left. (Ching Shih was one of the most successful pirates in history, I highly recommend reading up on her!)

Come Rebels, that pirate structure has been stamped out and illegal activity has become even more fringe, war-profiteering is no longer a way of life for Hondo and he’s now mostly pirate in identity, not so much practice. So, a loss of obvious identifying trappings. Don’t tell him I said that.

Now revel in these Hondo headshots:

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